Gujarat Lions were a propitious battalion until the playoffs last season. However their promising season saw a tame end. It was the first time in IPL history that table toppers didn’t qualify for finals.
This time around they’ll be looking to go one step further and grab the title in what could well be franchise’s last appearance in IPL.
The already star-studded lineup is bolstered by addition of some more heavyweights. The thought of playing as a unit for one last time has given them license to thrill, a sitch which is tailor made for McCullums, Rainas, Jadejas and co.
Strengths – A strong batting line up coupled with a sound bowling attack make Gujarat a side to watch out for. Also, there are some great fielders in the side and likes of former captains like McCullum, Finch, Bravo who can aid Raina.
Weakness – Batting line up is too top heavy. If they find themselves at 30/4 there is not much experience in lower order to bail them out. Foreign seamers are considered a great asset in IPL and Gujarat ain’t got one.
X- Factor – If any team is to score 200 in every game then it’s Gujarat. The destruction and firepower they posses at the top of the order in second to none.
Probable XI – Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy, Aaron Finch, Suresh Raina (C), Dinesh Karthik, Ishan Kishan, James Faulkner, Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Shadab Jakati, Munaf Patel.
With Jadeja out for 2 weeks, Jakati has big shoes to fill in. Gujarat Lions have 4 options in opening slot, Finch Roy, McCullum and DR Smith who did an excellent job for Mumbai Indians and CSK at the top of the order. McCullum can tear apart bowling attacks like no other in first 6 overs which makes him an automatic choice for opening. His most-likely partner will be Jason Roy who was added to the side at the auction. Finch, Raina, Karthik form a solid middle order. Ishan Kishan having a great Ranji season is likely to make it to the side. Gujarat will bank on lusty hits of Faulkner to provide them impetus in death overs. They have a beautiful all-Indian pace attack in form of experienced Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and Dhawal Kulkarni.
Squad: Suresh Raina (C), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Manpreet Gony, Ishan Kishan, Shadab Jakati, Dinesh Karthik, Chirag Suri, Shivil Kaushik, Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Pratham Singh, Jason Roy, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Shelley Shaurya, Nathu Singh, Tejas Baroka, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Shubham Agarwal and Basil Thampi.
– by Atharva Apte